Tulsans are obsessed with these 4 local celebs
Maybe you’ve seen them around town, but do you know the stories behind these familiar faces?
Janice Greco-Lucchina, owner of Act One Event Services, which is an usher company that contracts with the PAC.
There are some friendly folks around town whose zest for life is so contagious it reminds us to slow down and enjoy the moment. Maybe you’ve seen them around town, but do you know the stories behind these familiar faces?
Your tickets, please: Janice Greco-Lucchina
If you’ve attended a show at Tulsa Performing Arts Center, chances are you’ve seen Janice Greco-Lucchina. She’s the friendly owner of Act One Event Services, an usher company that contracts with the PAC.
Loyally posted at the Orchestra Right entrance for nine years, Greco-Lucchina greets patrons with her enthusiastic personality and love of theater.
“I always stand at the same spot and take tickets, so I get to know the season ticket holders well,” Greco-Lucchina says. “You just banter a little and make them feel at ease and just relax and have a good night. That’s why we’re there.”
Originally from New York, Greco-Lucchina came to Tulsa 40 years ago as an employee of American Airlines.
“When I first moved here people would ask me what I missed the most and I would say my Broadway,” says Greco-Lucchina, her New York accent still detectable. “In 1980 I went to my first show at PAC. I saw those ushers there and I was like, ‘That is my dream job.’”
She first volunteered as a PAC usher for a local theater company — the same company her daughter was performing with. She got to see her on stage each night.
“I got my opportunity to start ushering (as a job) when ‘Wicked’ came in town in 2009, and who’d have ever thought I’d wind up being in charge of those ushers?” she says. “I started ushering downstairs in 2004, came upstairs in 2009 and acquired the company in 2011.”
She now has a crew of over 50 rotating ushers, with most shows requiring about 24. “We are like one big, happy family,” Greco-Lucchina says.
Adam J. Foreman, director of marketing and outreach at the Tulsa PAC, agrees.
“At the Tulsa PAC, patron satisfaction is our No. 1 priority,” he says. “No one exemplifies this more than Janice. Having known her both professionally and personally for a number of years, I am ever grateful that our patrons get the privilege of interacting with Janice and her superb staff at every show.
“She makes sure the entire experience is one of excitement, pleasure, safety and overall satisfaction. The front of house is in good hands with Janice at the helm.”
Greco-Lucchina, however, is quick to give credit to those around her. “I have a wonderful staff,” she says.
Now retired from American Airlines, Greco-Lucchina works almost every show. She has her favorites though. “‘Wicked’ and ‘Les Miserables’ — I could literally sit through ‘Wicked’ every night,” Greco-Lucchina says. “It’s a great environment to work in, and a dream retirement job.”
“Who’s ready?”: Evan Elsberry
Baseball is a sport of traditions: the ceremonial first pitch, the seventh-inning stretch and bobblehead night, to name a few. But for devoted fans who dedicate hours of passionate encouragement in the hot summer sun, no tradition is more beloved than the beer man.
Since ONEOK Field opened in 2010, Evan Elsberry has walked the stadium, hydrating thirsty fans, and taking his rightful place among the treasured traditions of Drillers baseball.
Year after year, his admirers look for the man with the flag bandana and his booming mantra, “Who’s ready?” repeated tirelessly every few steps.
Armed with a cooler in each hand, Elsberry embodies all that makes baseball America’s pastime: patriotism, hard work and ice-cold beer.
“Everyone knows I work hard. It’s a labor of love,” Elsberry says. “I wear a red, white and blue bandana because I’m as red, white and blue as it gets. They see me stand at attention during the national anthem, and it gives them more than just a beer man.”
When he’s not at the ballpark, Elsberry is in charge of the custom glass department at a local glass company. It was through that work that he began moonlighting at the ballpark.
Elsberry was doing a job at the home of Chuck Lamson, former owner of the Drillers, when he inquired about being a beer man. There were no openings until the Drillers moved downtown to ONEOK Field.
“When they built the new stadium, they realized it was just too big of a job and needed a third guy, so Chuck called me up and said to get down to the stadium, and the rest is history,” Elsberry says.
Born and raised in Tulsa, Elsberry joined the U.S. Navy after graduating from Edison High School. Later, he was the drummer in a band based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and toured along the East Coast for years until he moved home 15 years ago to be near family.
“I decided to move back to Tulsa, dabble in the glass business and sling beer on the side. It’s a great town,” says Elsberry, who also has sold beer at the Tulsa State Fair and the Chili Bowl.
If you’ve been at a Drillers game in the later innings, you may have caught his signature act, crowning the night’s “rock star section.”
“The highlight, kind of what I’m known for, is at the end of the night, when I’m done selling, I’ll go down to the section that treated me the best and I’ll tell them thank you very much for being my rock star section of the night, and I’ll slam a beer,” he says. “They love it. It’s so stupid, but it gives me a lot of fun and enjoyment.”
Elsberry looks forward to opening day every year. It’s a chance to reconnect with the hundreds of season ticket holders, fans and co-workers he has missed in the off-season. The ballpark and his relationships there provide a sanctuary from the stresses of his day job.
“It’s kind of my alter ego,” he says. “I can go out and have fun and talk to everybody. Even people who don’t drink beer sit down and have conversations with me.
“After almost 10 years, I’ve made a name for myself and can pretty much get along with anybody. Everybody’s happy when they’re here, so it’s a fun place to be.”
Leaving with more than you came for: Mary Holmes
A trip to the grocery store can be stressful, from customers rushing around avoiding cart collisions to long lines at the checkout counter.
However, Mary Holmes is working hard to change that, one compliment at a time.
“I want to make everybody feel comfortable when they come here to shop and have a good time so they come on back,” says Holmes, a cashier at the Reasor’s at East 15th Street and South Lewis Avenue.
“It was Albertson’s grocery store before, and I worked there, so I came with the store,” she says. Now celebrating her 11th year with Reasor’s, she has become a local celebrity.
“We have customers who live out of state and only come in a couple times a year, and every time they’re here they come to see Mary,” says Holmes’ supervisor of two years, Travis Greene. “She makes everybody’s day. She always has a positive attitude and makes people feel welcome.”
Holmes has many signature catch phrases, including “baby girl” and “Miss America who doesn’t look a day over 18,” that keep customers smiling.
For restless kids, she keeps a stash of candy behind the counter, providing mothers some time during the crucial moments at checkout.
Even local firefighters will come in and line up at Holmes’ checkout stand, regardless of whether the others are open.
Born and raised in Tulsa, Holmes has lived here her whole life. Outside of work she loves to crochet, attend church activities and cook.
Often, she shares her cooking talents with her co-workers and brings sweet treats for all to enjoy. Her chocolate cake, sweet potato pie and brownies are all popular among her fellow employees.
“I consider my job a blessing,” Holmes says.
Her favorite time of year is when she and her fellow employees dress up for Halloween. “Last year I was Catwoman,” Holmes says with a smile.
She continues to have a positive impact on those around her, and customers flock to her line. “It’s my job to spread love and cheer to everyone,” she says.
Job well done, Mary Holmes.
A daily hello: Robert “Hap” Fry and Badger
If you’re taking in a little retail therapy at Utica Square, there’s a good chance you’ll see Robert “Hap” Fry and his steadfast companion, Badger, taking one of their daily walks.
Badger, a fluffy black Aussiedoodle with a red, white and blue bandana, cruises the shopping center in a custom-made chariot for his hind legs.
After a 2017 accident left Badger partially paralyzed, Fry spared no expense or effort to save him, traveling as far as North Carolina for experimental treatments.
However, if you ask Fry, a highly decorated Tulsa attorney, he’ll tell you it’s the least he could do for his canine friend.
“On December 8th, 2011, my wife passed away, and I was absolutely heartbroken,” he says. In his grief, he struggled to find a purpose. His children were concerned and encouraged Fry to get a dog. Eventually, he agreed and adopted Badger, named after the dog’s home state of Wisconsin. What developed was a beautiful friendship.
“Badger filled a place that was vacant in my heart; we have been inseparable ever since,” says Fry, as he fights back tears.
A lifelong Tulsan, Fry grew up near East 27th Street and South Peoria Avenue. He recalls as a teenager how he and his friends would sneak on to the property of Utica Square after midnight and walk around. They found out years later that his mother was watching from her parked car the whole time.
He still lives within walking distance of the shopping center, which was a prerequisite when purchasing his home. “Utica Square has always been my place, it’s where I’ve done my shopping, it’s where I learned to tie a bowtie,” he says.
Patrons and vendors are now familiar with Fry’s and Badger’s daily ritual, and many come out to say hello.
Badger’s favorite stop is the Dolphin Fine Linens on the east side of the property. That’s where his girlfriend Rosie, the resident shop dog, resides.
“He’s a sweetheart, so happy to be here and so happy to see us,” says Cristina Woods, co-owner of the Dolphin. “(Rosie and Badger) are good friends. They exchange gifts at the holidays.”
In addition to their regular walks, Badger and Fry love to attend Summer’s Fifth Night, Utica Square’s weekly live music event, in the warm months. “They don’t know me, but they know Badger,” Fry says of the music fans.
He’s being humble, however. Fry has been practicing law in Tulsa for over 50 years, focusing on divorce and child custody litigation.
Among a long list of accolades and honors, Fry is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. In 2016, he was named “Lawyer of the Year for Family Law in Tulsa” by Best Lawyers, the oldest peer review publication in the legal profession, and holds an A/V preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell.
Since 2012, Badger has been by his side and Fry wouldn’t have it any other way.
“When I do a deposition, he sits right next to me,” Fry says, pointing to the floor next to his desk. “He’s just a wonderful, wonderful dog.”